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Elder Uchtdorf among those memorializing Col. Halvorsen — the ‘Berlin Candy Bomber’ — as deliverer of sweets, sunshine and hope


Col. Gail S. Halvorsen — known lovingly by legions as the “Berlin Candy Bomber” — was memorialized Tuesday, Feb. 22, as a “man of action, kindness and faith” who brought joy to countless individuals even while helping to unify nations that were once adversaries.

The opening hymn at Halvorsen’s funeral service, “You Can Make the Pathway Bright,” seemed an apt tribute to a remarkable man who was honored for trailblazing brightness at a historic moment defined by darkness and devastation.

The devout Latter-day Saint died on Feb. 16, 2022, at age 101.

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and ‘Candy Bomber’ Gail Halvorsen pose for a photo following a Volkstrauertag commemoration event held in Fort Douglas Military Cemetery in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019.

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and “Berlin Candy Bomber” Col. Gail Halvorsen pose for a “thumbs up” photo following a Volkstrauertag commemoration event held in Fort Douglas Military Cemetery in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019. Elder Uchtdorf spoke at Halvorsen’s Feb. 22, 2022, funeral services.

Credit: Jonathon Tichy

Halvorsen’s friend and fellow aviator, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles presided at Tuesday’s gathering in Provo, Utah. He was joined at the service by many other loved ones and friends, including American military generals and German diplomats.

“Brother Halvorsen was an ambassador for unity, peace, friendship, kindness and goodness all around the world,” said Elder Uchtdforf, adding that his friend was, above all, “a good man” who had a smile for everyone he met.

Halvorsen’s trademark vigor and enthusiasm, continued Elder Uchtdorf, served him well as a bishop, stake president and full-time missionary. His actions made the world a better place.

Young Dieter Uchtdorf was not counted among the German children who enjoyed a piece of candy dropped by Halvorsen or one of his fellow aviators, but he was a beneficiary of the Berlin airlift. The booming noise of aircraft delivering provisions to a war-weary country was “the sound of freedom” for the Uchtdorfs and countless others.

Halvorsen’s Christ-driven efforts symbolized the possibility of humanity and hope at a time of conflict in Europe. Elder Uchtdorf said he “hopes and prays” that such peace remains, even on a day where rumors of war are again dominating headlines.

“I hope we learn from history and not repeat it,” he said.

Read more: Prior to turning 100, here’s why the Candy Bomber is still smiling and kneeling for nightly prayer

Retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Duncan J. McNabb also spoke at Tuesday’s funeral. 

Halvorsen, he said, “changed the world in big ways — and small ways.”

His legendary “bombing” runs to deliver sweets to German children made him a hero on both sides of the Atlantic. 

Gail Halvorsen, the “Candy Bomber.”

Gail Halvorsen, the “Candy Bomber.”

Credit: Photo courtesy Gail Halvorsen

McNabb recalled seeing former German Chancellor Angela Merkel once make her way through a large crowd just to converse for a few moments with the Berlin candy bomber.

Halvorsen’s “mission on earth will continue” through eternity, said Halvorsen’s daughter, Denise H. Williams, during her funeral remarks.

She shared stories from her father’s rural upbringing — experiences that taught him the value of hard work, looking out for others and always following promptings of the Holy Spirit. 

Long after the Berlin airlift, Williams said, her father spent decades lifting and serving his country and people of all nations. Just days before his death, Halvorsen spoke via Zoom to a group of school kids about his famed experiences. 

Whether serving the United States in uniform, as an administrator at Brigham Young University or as a senior missionary for the Church, Halvorsen always made new acquaintances who became lifelong friends.

“Jesus Christ was his friend, and the centerpiece of his life,” said son Brad Halvorsen in his Tuesday remarks.

He marveled at his father’s enthusiasm and positivity, even during difficult times and health challenges. Photos of Halvorsen frequently captured him with his thumbs up — a signal of his unshakable optimism.

“My dad has always been my greatest hero. … He was a Christlike leader,” said Brad Halvorsen.

Halvorsen is survived by his wife, Lorraine, five children, 24 grandchildren and 69 great-grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his first wife, Alta.

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